Second in a three-part series on the impact of Polynesian players on American football.
At the time it was a scandal.
|Former University of Colorado coach Bill McCartney now plays the part of TC's proud grandfather. (Getty Images)|
Controversies fade. Legacies don't.
Seventeen years later, a part of Sal lives in a tall, bright junior quarterback at Boulder (Colo.) Fairview High School. TC McCartney might not know it, but he is part of the Polynesian revolution.
This week's series on Polynesians' influence on college football focuses on how a small sub-population in the South Pacific produces some of the best, most-reliable, high-character players in the United States' most popular game.
But it is the second generation that will have to advance the story. There are only 60,000 residents in American Samoa, a hotbed of college football talent. Players of Polynesian blood born and/or raised in the U.S. are the next generation.
"The second generation is very important because they might be more refined," said Colorado assistant Brian Cabral, who has recruited the South Pacific for years.
McCartney's dad was a native Samoan. Mom is Caucasian. The weird thing is that TC has grown up to play the same position as his father, a star option quarterback for the Buffs in the late 1980s. TC is a conventional quarterback who might imitate his father again if he gets a major-college scholarship.
"When I remember seeing Sal playing, I saw a lot of running," said Fairview coach Tom McCartney, TC's uncle. "I thought he had the gift to run real well. In TC, I see more of a drop-back passer. He's 6-3, 185 throws a really nice ball. He can scramble, but his strengths are more for stroking the ball."
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is aware of TC. His high school coach says the quarterback himself has interest in San Diego State, in the same city where the Samoan side of his family resides.
The football legacy extends to Aunese's nephew, Pisa Tinoisamoa, a second-generation Samoan from San Diego who is a three-year NFL veteran.
The McCartney family has nurtured TC back in Colorado. He lives with his mother, Kristyn, near Boulder next door to her parents, former Colorado coach Bill McCartney and his wife, Lyndi. His uncle is his coach. Another uncle, Mike McCartney, is a player agent who represents, among others, Oregon's Haloti Ngata, a second-generation Tongan.
"I told Haloti we have a little Polynesian blood in my family, too," he said.
TC is an innocent reminder of a turbulent time at CU. That Aunese had fathered a child with the daughter of his coach was such a hot topic that several news outlets chose not to report it.
It wasn't until Bill McCartney praised his daughter at Aunese's memorial that it was public record.
"Kristy McCartney, you've been a trooper," he said at the time. "You could have had an abortion, gone away and had the baby somewhere else to avoid the shame but you didn't.
"You're going to raise that little guy and all of us are going to have an opportunity to watch him."
How prophetic. TC began last season splitting time at quarterback for Fairview. An injury allowed him to finish the season as the starter.
"He is a very quiet guy, very soft spoken, but extremely poised," Tom McCartney said. "He's not too high, not too low, but a fierce competitor.
"We always had both quarterbacks on the field at the same time so people couldn't prepare for what quarterback was going to be in there. (Sometimes) we'd switch snap by snap. Even though I may have named the other player the starter, TC was playing probably 20 snaps a game at quarterback, the rest at receiver."
This year he is the incumbent, playing in the shadow of the Flatirons, where his father starred.
Colorado has long been a football home to Polynesians. Cabral is a huge reason. His father, Walter, was the first Hawaiian to play at Notre Dame. Brian was raised in Hawaii, played at Colorado and is entering his 18th year as a coach at his alma mater. Dan Hawkins is his fourth boss at CU.
Cabral's "gets" include former safety Donnell Leomiti, who came to Colorado from American Samoa without visiting the school in 1992. Now he is on Hawkins' staff. Offensive lineman Chris Naeole (Class of '96) is a nine-year NFL veteran.
"We made a point to recruit the islands," Cabral said. "Because I'm from there, it's a natural ... I know thoroughly what it's about.
"It's a game that they enjoy. It's a game that fits their nature. I think you'll start seeing more and more."
The next generation might be in CU's backyard. Make that right next door.